Fairwheel Bikes builds a 9.18kg fat bike

Big on volume, low on weight

Fat bikes are usually thought of as heavy and slow. They're also typically ridden in wintery conditions. Jason Woznick of Fairwheel Bikes decided to challenge both of those notions, however, with an ultralight carbon fat bike that will very likely never see a single snowflake.

"I had a couple of reasons for wanting to do this one," Woznick told BikeRadar. "The biggest was that fat bikes are fun, but in a place like Tucson there really isn’t a reason to choose a fat bike over something like a 29er in most cases. I wanted to build something that I’d want to take on rides rather than just always grabbing the 29er. To me a big part of that was building something light that handled and rode well. This bike simply makes me smile when I ride it and when I finish riding it, I still want to ride it again."

'Light' is, of course, an incredibly subjective descriptor but few will argue that it applies here. As pictured, Woznick's custom fat bike project weighs an incredible 9.18kg (20.24lb), which is lighter than many dedicated, high-end XC racing machines and an especially amazing feat considering that each 4in-wide tyre weighs upwards of 1,200g.

Not surprisingly, then, this special machine is dripping with exotic componentry. Woznick started with a carbon fiber Salsa Beargrease frame and fork, and then dressed it up with a SRAM XX1/X01 transmission and Magura MT8 hydraulic disc brakes. Race Face's Next SL crankset was an obvious choice, given the hollow carbon arms and fat bike-friendly modular 30mm-diameter aluminium spindle design.

The race face next sl carbon cranks were an obvious choice given their hollow carbon fiber arms and fat bike-friendly modular aluminum spindle design:
The race face next sl carbon cranks were an obvious choice given their hollow carbon fiber arms and fat bike-friendly modular aluminum spindle design:

Wheels were built with Tune's new Fat King and Fat Kong hubs, feathery LaMere double-wall carbon rims, and Sapim CX Super stainless steel spokes, all wrapped up with 45NRTH Hüsker Dü tyres set up tubeless.

The tune fat kong rear hub makes quite a racket when you roll down the trail:
The tune fat kong rear hub makes quite a racket when you roll down the trail:

Woznick reached further into the European parts bin for the Schmolke carbon fiber seatpost and handlebar, the Extralite CNC machined aluminium stem, the Tune carbon hulled saddle, and the impossibly minimal carbon seatpost collar from Parts of Passion.

Be sure to have a torque wrench handy when making saddle height adjustments on this machine:
Be sure to have a torque wrench handy when making saddle height adjustments on this machine:

Even the smallest details weren't overlooked. Capping things off are Aican segmented aluminium derailleur housing, a headset and stainless steel brake rotors from KCNC, Ashima aluminium rotor bolts, an Mcfk steerer expander plug, and aggressively machined Cane Creek AER headset spacers.

Ashima aluminum rotor bolts tighten to just 4nm and are held in place with lock washers:
Ashima aluminum rotor bolts tighten to just 4nm and are held in place with lock washers:

Some folks – us included – might consider a few of the parts to be somewhat questionable for real world riding. The bars are quite narrow, for example, most of the swept area on the rotors has been milled away in the interest of saving weight, and the saddle has no padding. That said, Woznick built this bike for himself and finds the bars to be wide enough and the bike isn't likely to see the extended, steep terrain that might cause the spindly rotors to overheat. Having sat on the bike ourselves, though, we can confirm that the saddle is as marginally comfortable as it appears.

The ax-lightness saddle uses a carbon fiber shell, carbon fiber rails, and just a hint of leather covering with no padding underneath. it doesn't look terribly comfortable - and isn't when you sit on it, either:
The ax-lightness saddle uses a carbon fiber shell, carbon fiber rails, and just a hint of leather covering with no padding underneath. it doesn't look terribly comfortable - and isn't when you sit on it, either:

"There’s nothing that I consider questionable for real world riding, but of course that depends on the rider," said Woznick "The handlebar and seatpost have a 180lb rider weight limit which is of no concern to me. I think the only drawback comes if you are a rider who is predisposed to crashing a lot. Some of the parts ride well and are plenty durable until you start hitting them against the ground on a regular basis."

We didn't spend much time on Woznick's pet project but even just a few pedals strokes prove how special it is. The bike is remarkably quick, particularly when compared to other fat bikes that can often weigh 50 percent more, and acceleration is notably brisk for the segment. Just as you'd expect, it's also almost laughably easy to toss about once up to speed – a key attribute since there's no real suspension to be had.

Fairwheel bikes manager jason woznick will lop off the unneeded steerer once he finalizes his bar height, taking off yet another handful of grams:
Fairwheel bikes manager jason woznick will lop off the unneeded steerer once he finalizes his bar height, taking off yet another handful of grams:

Not surprisingly, then, the bike is also very expensive. Woznick estimates that the full retail price would be just over US$9,000 but even so, he says he's nowhere near done yet (and well within the range of other Fairwheel Bikes projects).

"Next on the docket we have a few projects," he said. "We’re going to take this fat bike to the next level and drop its weight by more than full pound, taking it just under 19lb. I’ve finally finished the worlds lightest BMX bike, which was shown but not finalized at Interbike. USA BMX will be taking that one for a ride on the track to verify its functionality in late May or early June. 

The lizard skins grips feature a lightweight and cushy foam core wrapped with the company's tacky dsp rubber. note the carbon brake lever clamp and aluminum mounting bolts, too:
The lizard skins grips feature a lightweight and cushy foam core wrapped with the company's tacky dsp rubber. note the carbon brake lever clamp and aluminum mounting bolts, too:

"I’ve got a one-off Parlee fixed gear I’m doing just for fun," he continued. "I'm also finishing up a Calfee Manta disc road bike that was shown at NAHBS, waiting for some pre-production EE direct-mount brakes to finish up a Parlee ESX aero project, and also working on a really special steel project once again pairing Rob English and artist Geoff McFetridge."

Needless to say, Woznick doesn't seem to complain much about having to go into work each morning.

Fat bikes are generally assumed to be heavy and cumbersome beasts but the one created by fairwheel bikes is anything but. as shown here, it weighs a scant 9.18kg (20.24lb) - lighter than many dedicated xc race rigs:
Fat bikes are generally assumed to be heavy and cumbersome beasts but the one created by fairwheel bikes is anything but. as shown here, it weighs a scant 9.18kg (20.24lb) - lighter than many dedicated xc race rigs:

Complete specifications:

Frame: Salsa Beargrease, size medium

Fork: Salsa Makwa

Headset: KCNC Radiant R1 w/ Mcfk expander plug and Cane Creek AER spacers

Stem: Extralite OC

Handlebars: Schmolke TLO, 660mm

Tape/grips: Lizard Skins DSP

Front brake: Magura MT8 w/ KCNC Razor 160mm rotor and Ashima aluminium bolts

Rear brake: Magura MT8 w/ KCNC Razor 140mm rotor and Ashima aluminium bolts

Brake levers: Magura MT8

Rear derailleur: SRAM XX1

Shift levers: SRAM XX1 trigger

Cassette: SRAM XO1, 10-42T

Chain: KMC X11SL

Crankset: Race Face Next SL w/ 28T direct-mount chainring

Bottom bracket: Race Face Next SL

Pedals: n/a

Rims: LaMere carbon, 65mm

Front hub: Tune Fat King

Rear hub: Tune Fat Kong

Spokes: Sapim CX Super

Front tyre: 45NRTH Hüsker Dü, 26x4in, 120TPI

Rear tyre: 45NRTH Hüsker Dü, 26x4in, 120TPI

Saddle: Tune Komm-Vor Dual

Seatpost: Schmolke TLO

Other: Aican Bungarus derailleur housing and DLC cable, custom Fairwheel Bikes top cap, Parts of Passion seatpost collar

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